After clinching its first winning season in 12 years, the Georgetown football team (6-2, 2-1 Patriot League) isn’t resting on its laurels. Instead, the team is headed into the final three games of the season focused on winning the Patriot League. That effort begins this Saturday with a matchup against league leader Holy Cross (4-3, 2-0 Patriot League).
The Hoyas achieved their goal of a winning season last Saturday, when they secured their sixth win by thrashing Colgate, 40-17, before a large Homecoming crowd. For Head Coach Kevin Kelly, who has led the Blue and Gray since 2006, getting back on the winning side of the ledger means a lot.
“It’s huge. We haven’t had [a winning season] here since 1999,” Kelly said. “There are a lot of guys who were here two years ago when it was at its lowest point, and they stuck through it. I’m proud of those guys. They are the characterguys.”
But the surprising success isn’t just meaningful for the players who were with the Hoyas during their winless 2009 campaign. The entire squad can celebrate securing its first preseason goal with three games left in the season.
“It’s a huge win for the program. I’m happy for the players and the coaches who have been here through the tough times,” Kelly said. “Hopefully this will propel us to taking another step forward with thisprogram.”
Unlike in previous years, Kelly has the team positioned to actually take that next step. With two wins and one loss in the Patriot League, The Blue and Gray control their own destiny. A conference championship is firmly within the realm of possibility.
“[The players] understand. This is why you play the game, for championships. And that is our next goal,” Kelly said. “We want to win the Patriot League. We have a tough opponent in Holy Cross, and the guys are very focused in on it.”
A 2-1 conference record gives Georgetown an opportunity to focus solely on its own games without scoreboard-watching and worrying how rivals’ performances will affect its standing in the conference.
“You take one [game] at a time,” Kelly said. “All we have to worry about is Holy Cross. We don’t have to worry about anybody else.”
And while Georgetown’s task may be less daunting because of its success earlier in the season, beating Holy Cross will be a tough task. The Crusaders’ offense is the second-best in the Patriot League at moving the ball, and the defense is even better, yielding a league-low 322.7 yards per game.
Holy Cross is led by one of the best players in the Patriot League, senior quarterback Ryan Taggart. His 341.3 total yards per game average beats out the entire Georgetown offense by nearly 7 yards per game.
“They throw the ball extremely well;.[Taggart] is excellent. They have a great scheme,” Kelly said. “I know [Holy Cross Head Coach Tom] Gilmore well. We were colleagues at Dartmouth. They are excellent on both sides of the football.”
On the other side of the ball, senior cornerback Chandler Fenner and junior safety Tom Mannix will lead a unit looking to stop the Blue and Gray offense.
During last season’s meeting between the two teams, the Hoyas defeated the Crusaders for the first time since 1999. Georgetown effectively shut down Holy Cross’ ground game en route to a 17-7 Homecoming win. It’s likely that a similar strategy will be employed Saturday.
“They pass the football well, but always, if you can stop the run, that helps you with the other phase as well,” Kelly said. “That never changes, week in and week out.”
Georgetown will have to battle with more than just a tough Holy Cross team. The National Weather Service is predicting morning frost followed by a chilly, wet afternoon with a high of 45 degrees.
“The team that’s going to be the mentally toughest on Saturday is going to win. The weather is not supposed to be very good. Two evenly matched football teams. Turnovers are going to be a big issue,” Kelly said. “Who can handle the weather and who can’t, that’s what it’s going to come down to.”
Kickoff is scheduled for 1 p.m. on Saturday in Worcester, Mass.